no dog in that fight*

I came across two news stories yesterday that I was interested in.  One of them is local, one is most definitely not.  Neither directly affects my life, but I still feel that I want to weigh-in on them.

Crabbe Elementary School

One of the local school districts is considering closing one of its elementary schools.  The idea of closing an elementary school and consolidating it with another is not uncommon.  I am in no way against consolidating schools.  While it may not save the district money in the way of teachers’ salaries, it can potentially save a lot of money in the areas of administrative and staff salaries.  This would allow more money to be spent on the education of children.  It also allows for more pooling of resources and supplies to meet the needs of teachers and students and enhance student learning, and we all know that students need a good learning.  The closed school would also provide a location for the district central office, district preschool and district central school to move that would not be a trailer or the money pit in which they are currently residing.

Now that I’ve listed all the reasons that closing a school is good, I’d like to address why they are making an awful suggestion to go about doing it.  The problem is their choice of schools.  The original plan had been to close Hatcher Elementary, which is the smallest school in the district but is one of the outlying schools of the district.  There were protests, as one might expect about that proposition.  The district’s local planning committee very recently changed directions and decided Crabbe Elementary would be a better choice of schools to close.  Crabbe’s student body has been dropping recently.  When it comes to school size, it is in the middle in the district.  Crabbe’s best feature is perhaps the school’s location.  It is the only school downtown, which makes it the only school where a high percentage of students can actually walk safely to school.  It is located in the city park and next to the main branch of the county library.  Crabbe is also a mile and a half from the nearest other elementary school in the district.

Since the sudden change in plans, there has been the expected protest.  In fact, the protest was so great that the committee has postponed making a final decision, which was expected to be made this past Monday.  While it is easy to just say that the district should not close the school, I would offer an alternative proposition.  If a school needs to be closed to make room for the district administration and preschool, a better choice would be Poage Elementary School.  Poage is the second smallest school in the district.  It is near the center of the district and located just half a mile from the closest other elementary school.  The students in the school’s area could easily be distributed to three other district elementary schools without greatly increasing the distance from their homes.  The biggest downside to this plan would be that the district offices would no longer be downtown.  I’m not saying that’s the only solution or even the best solution, but I did want to throw it out there.

University of Mississippi

The other matter is the suggestion to change the mascot at Ole Miss.  The university dropped Colonel Reb as its mascot in 2003 in the somewhat justifiable name of being unoffensive**.  Colonel Reb was an elderly southern gentleman.  Although he is no longer on the sidelines and courts, he can still be seen in the stands and on various university products.  The reason I say the the removal of the mascot was somewhat justified is because I acknowledge that the idea of an antebellum southern gentleman is widely viewed as a plantation owner, who would by necessity own slaves.  Personally, I consider a southern antebellum gentleman to be someone who stands for honor, respect for others, hospitality and all the other positive views of such a figure that were held in the 1930s when Colonel Reb first appeared.  I believe this is also how the university intended him to be viewed.  Having such a figure on campus can be nowhere near as offensive as the school flying the state flag, which contains the most widely-known Confederate battle flag,** on campus.  Yesterday the school allowed the student body to vote on creating a new mascot, possibly a Colonial rebel or a cardinal in honor of a student organization, or to have no mascot at all.  The students went against most predictions and voted to find a new mascot instead of being the only SEC school without one.  I was hoping they’d vote for no new mascot as a protest, but if they are wanting to get a new mascot, I think a higher rank is in order.

*In choosing this title, I in no way condone Michael Vick’s past behavior.
**I am also a supporter of this Confederate battle flag when it is not being used for terroristic purposes, but that is another issue for another entry.

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2 Comments on “no dog in that fight*”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    Hi Andrew,
    Thank you for your comments on both of these issues. As you know I am fighting to keep Crabbe open. Actually, in the last few years enrollment has increased at Crabbe. It has been interesting to watch our neighborhood as we are seeing more young families move in. Crabbe has a bad reputation which is certainly unwarranted. I’ve heard Crabbe is the city’s best kept secret, and I believe it. Even with a good population of special needs kids, we are doing very well in our testing. Well, I could go on and on about why it should stay open (such as in a downtown struggling to revitalize itself, closing the only downtown school is a serious mistake), but I also want to mention that I did campus ministry at Ole Miss so I’m familiar with the mascot issue as well. He doesn’t offend me near as much as some of the folks in the stands who worship to football god. And, you know, I’ve met plenty of Colonial Rebs in my life. They hold the door for me, and they’re too much a gentleman to tell me what they REALLY think of a woman preacher. And they’re polite enough to listen and let me do what I was called to do. After that, they’ve been some of my biggest fans. Colonial Reb I think is about Ole Miss poking fun at itself while giving a nod to its Mint Julep roots. I always thought he was really a tribute to Mark Twain. Would people be more accepting of a freckled kid in raggedy overalls and bared feet? Or does that fit in a little too well with the image we have of poor countrified southern children? Just wondering.

    • Andrew Says:

      I think people in the state would probably take offense to the barefoot kid, too. While other people in the south realize that such a sight is a rarity and even then usually by choice, large parts of the rest of the country think it’s common. I had never thought about it before, but Col. Reb does strike quite a resemblance to the caricatures of Mark Twain.


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